Miniaturized satellite


Miniaturized satellite

Contents

Miniaturized satellites or small satellites are artificial satellites of unusually low weights and small sizes, usually under 500 kg (1,100 lb).[1] While all such satellites can be referred to as small satellites, different classifications are used to categorize them based on mass (see below).

One reason for miniaturizing satellites is to reduce the cost: heavier satellites require larger rockets of greater cost to finance; smaller and lighter satellites require smaller and cheaper launch vehicles and can sometimes be launched in multiples. They can also be launched 'piggyback', using excess capacity on larger launch vehicles. Miniaturized satellites allow for cheaper designs as well as ease of mass production, although few satellites of any size other than 'communications constellations' where dozens of satellites are used to cover the globe, have been mass produced in practice.

Besides the cost issue, the main rationale for the use of miniaturized satellites is the opportunity to enable missions that a larger satellite could not accomplish, such as:

  • Constellations for low data rate communications
  • Using formations to gather data from multiple points
  • In-orbit inspection of larger satellites.

Classification groups

3 microsatellites of Space Technology 5

Minisatellite

The term "minisatellite" usually refers to an artificial satellite with a "wet mass" (including fuel) between 100 and 500 kg (220 and 1,100 lb), though these are usually simply called "small satellites". Minisatellites are usually simpler but use the same technologies as larger satellites.

Microsatellite

Microsatellite or "microsat" is usually applied to the name of an artificial satellite with a wet mass between 10 and 100 kg (22 and 220 lb). However, this is not an official convention and sometimes microsats can refer to satellites larger than that. Sometimes designs or proposed designs of these types have microsatellites working together or in a formation. The generic term "small satellite" is also sometimes used. Except the mass, the size of satellite is important too.

Nanosatellite

The term "nanosatellite" or "nanosat" is usually applied to an artificial satellite with a wet mass between 1 and 10 kg (2.2 and 22 lb). Again designs and proposed designs of these types usually have multiple nanosatellites working together or in formation (sometimes the term "swarm" is applied). Some designs require a larger "mother" satellite for communication with ground controllers or for launching and docking with nanosatellites.

Picosatellite

Picosatellite or "picosat" (not to be confused with the PicoSAT series of microsatellites) is usually applied to the name of an artificial satellite with a wet mass between .1 and 1 kg (0.22 and 2.2 lb). Again designs and proposed designs of these types usually have multiple picosatellites working together or in formation (sometimes the term "swarm" is applied). Some designs require a larger "mother" satellite for communication with ground controllers or for launching and docking with picosatellites. The CubeSat design, with 1 kg maximum mass, is an example of a large picosatellite (or minimum nanosat).

Technical challenges

Micro/nanosats usually require innovative propulsion, attitude control, communication and computation systems.

Larger satellites usually use monopropellants or bipropellant combustion rockets for propulsion and attitude control; these systems are complex and require a minimal amount of volume to surface area to dissipate heat. These systems are used on larger microsats, while other micro/nanosats have to use electric propulsion, compressed gas, vaporizable liquids such as butane or carbon dioxide or other innovative propulsion systems that are simple, cheap and scalable.

Microsats can use conventional radio systems in UHF, VHF, the S-band and X-band, although often miniaturized using more up-to-date technology as compared to larger satellites. Tiny satellites such as nanosats and small microsats may lack the power supply or mass for large conventional radio transponders, and various miniaturized or innovative communications systems have been proposed, such a laser receivers, antenna arrays and satellite to satellite communication networks. Few of these have been demonstrated in practice.

Electronics need to be rigorously tested and modified to be "space hardened" or resistant to the outer space environment (vacuum, microgravity, thermal extremes, and radiation exposure). Miniaturized satellites allow for the opportunity to test new hardware with reduced expense in testing. Furthermore, since the overall cost risk in the mission is much lower, more up-to-date but less space-proven technology can be incorporated into micro and nanosats than can be used in much larger, more expensive missions with less appetite for risk.

Manufacturers of microsatellites include SpaceDev and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

Manufacturers of nanosatellites include GomSpace, ISIS and UTIAS-SFL.

SuitSat, a retired spacesuit fitted with some basic instrumentation and radio transmitting equipment and released into orbit in 2006, was an unconventional example of a low-cost microsatellite test platform.

See also

References

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Satellite — This article is about artificial satellites. For natural satellites, also known as moons, see Natural satellite. For other uses, see Satellite (disambiguation). An animation depicting the orbits of GPS satellites in medium Earth orbit …   Wikipedia

  • Quasi-Zenith Satellite System — Quasi Zenith satellite orbit QZSS animation The Quasi Zenith Satell …   Wikipedia

  • Technology Experiment Satellite — or (TES) is an experimental satellite to demonstrate and validate, in orbit, technologies that could be used in the future satellites of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). TES weighs 1108 kg and was successfully placed in 568 km sun… …   Wikipedia

  • Ōsumi (satellite) — Ōsumi Operator Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, University of Tokyo (now part of JAXA) Mission type Earth science …   Wikipedia

  • Shenzhou 7 — Infobox Space mission mission name = Shenzhou 7 insignia = sign = crew members = 3 launch pad = Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center launch = September 25, 2008 at 21:10:04.988 CST (13:10:04.988 UTC) landing = September 28, 2008 at 17:37 CST (09:37… …   Wikipedia

  • CubeSat — For more information, see List of CubeSats. Ncube 2, a Norwegian Cubesat. A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that usually has a volume of exactly one liter (10 cm cube), has a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms …   Wikipedia

  • ASAT program of the People's Republic of China — The People s Republic of China s Anti Satellite (ASAT) Program has been under development since 1964.[1] The ASAT program has since been moved from Program 640 to Program 863, the General Armaments Department and the State Administration for… …   Wikipedia

  • Chasqui I — Operator  Peru National University of Engineering Mission type Scientific Satellite of Earth …   Wikipedia

  • SPHERES — The Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) experiment is a testbed consisting of three 8 inch diameter miniaturized satellites that can operate in a variety of environments, including inside the… …   Wikipedia

  • EgyptSat 1 — is Egypt s first Earth remote sounding satellite. This satellite has been jointly built by Egypt s National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences together with the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau in Ukraine and was launched onboard a Dnepr… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.